By Jennifer L. Warren
BEACON – Stephanie Rodrigues will be forever grateful for the moment; it’s changed her life.
About 29 years ago, the former Marlboro resident was on the verge of starting Pre-K, extremely shy and scared beyond words to enter the building. And then, it happened: a little, spunky, brunette three year old girl approached her with a colorful, vibrating pen in hand, asking Rodrigues if she wanted to borrow the flashy writing tool.
“I immediately felt at ease,” recollected a smiling Rodrigues. “Suddenly, I didn’t have a problem with staying at school and especially with being around her.”
That momentous offering came from Nicole Elizabeth LaValle, better known by most as “Snooki,” the bold, funny and energetic reality television personality who starred in the insanely popular series, “Jersey Shore,” for many seasons. For Rodriguez, who has remained close friends with Snooki ever since that pivotal pen encounter, the gesture represented everything.
“It pretty much showed exactly who Nicole (Snooki) was and still is, always smiling, helping and making things fun and comfortable,” said Rodrigues. “She always wants to help out, make things better and brighter.”
Although wrapping up her final episode on “Jersey Shore” last year and keeping a relatively low profile in the entertainment industry as of late with her now shifted priorities of wife and mother of three children, Snooki has not by any means put the brakes on working. An entrepreneur, she owns a clothing and accessory store in Madison, New Jersey and just recently opened the doors to a brand new (second) shop on Main Street in Beacon. Having had grown up in nearby Marlboro, where she graduated high school, Snooki purposely wanted her second shop to have a home feel connection, representing a place she could give back and go back to on a regular basis. Living a couple of hours away, she also wanted its manager to have a deep meaning, someone with whom she shared a bond. She chose Rodrigues, who now resides in New Windsor, for that role.
“She approached me when I had another job in health care, but it was no longer serving me,” explained Rodrigues, who sees Snooki as a sister due to their closeness. “She put absolute trust in me to do this, and I truly want to work as hard as I can for her.”
And so the two close friends diligently worked to put together a special shopping locale. On Sunday, November 1, 2020 the appreciation for those efforts was visible at the Grand Opening where a line of eager customers wrapped around Main Street for a quarter mile. From 10:30-1:30, the store remained busy (15 face masked customers limited inside at a time), catering to the clothing and accessory needs of excited clientele. The first 50 entrants received goodie bags, chock-filled with samples and coupons from surrounding Beacon businesses, representing yet another “mission” of The Snooki Shop.
“We knew the Grand Opening was going to be a big day, so we wanted to involve others near us as much as possible; we really love this town.” said Rodrigues. “Nicole is all about seeing others succeed as well.”
Yet another distinction of The Snooki shop is to be all-inclusive. Featuring formal and informal, multi-pattern and colored (think leopard and camouflage) “Snooki” insignia attire as well as accessories and a Snooki line of makeup, the shop offers something for everyone. Including plus sizes as well as regular and petite ones, a shopper can find something for an elegant evening out or a lazy weekend lounging around the house.
“We want to really make sure everyone gets to experience this,” said Rodrigues. “We want to make people feel good when they walk out of here; we have an amazing team of workers, who I stress customer service to and making sure we are standing behind and really selling the “Snooki” brand which is bubbly, positive and all things good.”
Rodrigues and her power team will not be alone in creating that vibe. Snooki, although residing a couple hours away and limited (for now) to her in-person appearances at the Beacon business due to COVID, plans on being as hands-on as possible.
“I am 100 percent involved in the running of my Beacon store along with Madison location,” explained the television personality and entrepreneur. “I pick all of my merchandise, as they are my favorite items in my closet.”
And what about the significance of store number two being so close to where she grew up?
“I’ve always wanted to come back to the Hudson Valley business-wise,” said Snooki. “I’m super thankful to have found the perfect spot in Beacon to do just that and have all of my friends and family able to shop there.”